WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Barry West of Queens, New York suffered second-degree burns on July 22 after enduring an explosion over the city’s sidewalk grates.
- West is still recovering from the hospital.
- One nearby business owner said that the explosion could have been prevented by Con Edison.
Last week, a 57-year-old man of Queens, New York endured second-degree burns following an explosion as he was walking over grates on the city’s sidewalk.
NBC New York reported that the man, Barry West, caught fire while he was on his way to T-Mobile to pay his phone bill at about 5:30 pm on July 22.
Based on surveillance footage secured by the outlet, West caught in the flames as the burst happened. Good thing that he was able to stand up after falling off the ground. West was subsequently brought to Nassau University Medical Center.
Speaking with NBC New York, West’s friend Carrol Hamblin said that “God just picked him up and put him out of that fire.”
“Just a miracle. Nobody but God could do that. Not a man,” she added.
As he recovers from the hospital, West told NY Daily News Tuesday that he remains in bad condition.
“I feel lousy, lousy,” he said.
As he tried to recall what happened, West noted that he does not “remember too much.”
“It was — boom! — out of nowhere. I wasn’t able to move and it hurt like hell,” he said. “I lost some skin all over.”
“The safety of the public, our customers, and our employees is our number one priority,” a company representative told NY Daily News. “We are fully investigating the cause of this event which caused serious injury to a member of the public. We express our sincere concern for the victim and our regret for this incident. We wish him a full and fast recovery.”
According to the on-duty T-Mobile worker, who called 911 following the incident, the blast was “loud” just like a bomb.
The employee told the outlet: “It was very close to the store. When it exploded, I felt the heat on my face.”
One nearby store owner claimed that Con Edison was at the grate the day prior to the incident to also inspect a similar blast.
“This was preventable, but Con Ed didn’t take action,” the pizzeria’s owner told NY Daily News. “They didn’t do anything on Wednesday.”
Con Edison is now probing the incident but did not yet provide a comment to PEOPLE’s request as of this time.